For the April edition of Where to Eat, CultureMap's monthly column offering recommendations on the best restaurants to try every month, we hit a category that's a perennial fave: plant-based dishes.
Plant-based is the low-key version of vegan. Both categories skip meat and animal products, but "plant-based" does it without the whole judgy element, IE cruelty to animals. Come on, who needs the guilt.
Plant-based options have recently emerged in shocking places. For example, who would expect to find plant-based dishes at a churrascuria, a concept known for its skewered meats? That's just one of the surprises on this list.
Here's where to eat in Dallas if you're seeking surprising new plant-based menu items:
Newly opened restaurant atop the blinky Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas has an entire standalone plant-based menu with tempting dishes including roasted cauliflower with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, scallions, golden raisins, sumac vinaigrette, and tahini cream; Cavatalli pasta with kale, English peas, blistered tomatoes, artichoke, and Pecorino cheese; and a Roasted Vegetable Pot with cauliflower, artichokes, carrots, lipstick peppers, fingerling potatoes, sea beans, in miso & vegetable broth with toasted sourdough bread. Sides include pretzel-crusted onion rings, triple cooked fries, roasted carrots, and asparagus with cured lemon & Medjool dates. Starters include avocado aburi with horseradish, wasabi pickle, & crispy onion; avocado crunch sushi roll with cucumber, mango, & crispy puffed rice; a charcuterie board called Farmers Market Stand with roasted/pickled/fried vegetables, hummus, and smoky onion dip; and arugula-kale salad with crispy artichokes, snap peas, cured tomatoes, Pecorino cheese, & Marcona almonds.
Fogo de Chão
Churrascuria-style restaurant concept from Brazil known for its dedication to meat took the world by surprise in March with the revelation that they'd expanded their menu in an unprecedented new direction with the addition of plant-based options including tofu. Fogo already had some vegetarian dishes such as the Cauliflower Steak, but they added two new plant-based options, available for lunch, brunch, and dinner as an alternative to the full churrasco experience: Chimichurri-marinated tofu served atop black bean pasta with green onion, Napa cabbage, pickled onions, and carrot ginger-miso dressing; and power vegetable bowl with eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, and peppers, served with chimichurri spinach rice.
Shiny-glamorous bar-restaurant from Miami is newly opened in the Epic building on the outer edge of Deep Ellum where its bells & whistles include a two-story space with eye-catching illuminated “bamboo” cutout columns and music from an in-house DJ. Their menu features Southeast Asian dishes interpreted with a global approach, including a full sushi bar, but they also have two incredible plant-based entrees: Wild Mushroom Lo Mein, featuring black truffle mushroom pasta, and their signature Daring Plant Based King Pao Chicken with shiitakes, bok choy, lotus root, and cashew. Daring Foods is the plant-based chicken company backed by celebrities such as Drake, and it is an amazing fake, with a grill-marked crust and a chewy meaty center. Komodo also offers an Asian twist on steakhouse-style sides such as vegetable fried rice, and Wokked Vegetables, a killer medley with bok choy, mushroom, carrot, and baby corn.
Moxie's is famous for being owned by Tom Gaglardi, proprietor of the Dallas Stars and brought from Canada to the U.S. by franchise group Eatz Hospitality. They have three locations in North Texas, including Uptown, Plano., and Southlake. They're sometimes lumped in to the sports bar category, but they're on the swanky side, and unlike your typical sports bar, they have some serious plant-based options including vegan pot stickers, vegan tofu lettuce wraps, a vegetarian power bowl with cauliflower rice, and a Beyond Burger.
Digital food hall at 3510 Ross Ave. is the first restaurant outside of South Central Texas to offer menu items from Earth Burger, an award-winning plant-based fast food chain founded in San Antonio in 2014. Earth Burger is known for its burgers made with plant-based patties, chik-n, and “fishless” filets. At Oomi, they're offering burgers such as the Ranchero topped with cheese, fried onion haystack, pickles, and BBQ ranch, plus chicken sandwiches, fries, and tater tots. Earth Burger is embarking on a national expansion with assistance from Sinelli Concepts, the Dallas group founded by Jeff Sinelli that owns Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.
New pop-up is a recently transplant from California from enthusiastic vegan chef Renee Pugh, with a menu whose options include crispy Jamaican jerk chicken breast or Jamaican oxtails, with sweet potato waffles & Southern grits; BBQ rib sliders with purple slaw, smothered mac & cheese; and green beans & rice. It's never the same since she rolls out new specials almost weekly, such as sausage lasagna roll-ups with garlic ricotta cheese, served with sweet corn and garlic bread. Stay tuned to their updates on their Instagram page. They serve dinner Wednesday-Friday, 5-9 pm, and Sunday brunch 12-3 pm. You can pull up at The Cookline, at 2011 W. Spring Creek Pkwy. #2000, or else order on DoorDash.
XOXO Dining Room and Garden
Fun gal-centric spot at 3121 Ross Ave. describes itself as a place where classic American cuisine meets pink and girly aesthetics, and who are we to argue. This temple of fuschia, magenta, crimson, and salmon comes with all sorts of rest stops and vignettes for fun photo ops, and their menu has shareable plant-based options including hummus with veggies and pita bread, and Impossible meatballs with yogurt sauce, labneh, and microgreens.
Most of the buzz around this public house concept from Darden Concepts, with two DFW locations in Addison and Toyota Music Factory in Irving, centers on their 100-plus beers on tap, including a rotating lineup of seasonal and limited selections, delivered perfectly chilled. Less fuss is made of the fact that they have an entire dedicated Gardein menu featuring a dozen dishes made with Gardein plant-based products. There's orange chicken, Gardein Cobb salad, Gardein chicken tenders, and Gardein Nashville-style hot chicken, which you can order in a sandwich or with pancakes, a twist on chicken & waffles. There are chicken nachos, a mac & cheese studded with chicken, and a BBQ chicken pizza.